Home Depot sucks, and they'll never know that I think so.

They'll never know because I won't tell them.


It's not like they ask. No one at the store seems to care, though they should, because it's almost always annoyingly bad. Whenever you ask an employee something, they can't tell you where it is. They don't know much about remodeling. They don't even seem to try.


If Home Depot were to ask me how I feel about shopping there, I probably wouldn't say anything. It's too little, too late. There were times in the past when I thought to complain, but I looked around and realized there would be no point. They didn't care enough about getting the paint color right; why would they care about what I have to say?


They probably think I'm satisfied with shopping there. Probably because I keep shopping there. They probably think: if I didn't like it, I'd just leave.


But that's not the case. I don't shop at Home Depot because it's great. I shop there because it's the best option I've got. If something better popped up, I'd be there in a heartbeat.


Relationships with people aren't much different. People stay with romantic partners even when their experiences suck, and their partners aren't aware because they don't ask. And people with complaints don't speak up because their partners give them the impression that they wouldn't care anyway. Maybe they tried to say something a few times just to be dismissed. Maybe their partners don't give them a chance. So they don't speak up.


And meanwhile, their partners assume that if the person they're with wasn't happy, they'd just leave.


You can't assume that peoples' actions reflect their preferences. True with Home Depot and true with love. People make decisions under conditions of constraint. We can't have it all, do it all, experience it all. There are limits: financial limits, social limits, institutional limits. So we make our decisions within those limits.


I'd love to shop somewhere other than Home Depot, but making that choice isn't easy because all the other options are worse. I'm not deciding to do what I want; I'm deciding to do what's possible right now.


If someone stays in a relationship, it doesn't mean they have chosen to stay because they like it. It might mean that, but you can't assume it because constraints always exist, and their choices might be constrained.


This sounds like common sense, and yet so many people are blindsided when they're dumped - because they, like Home Depot, have no idea how much they're really not adored.


Don't assume that what you see is all there is (see here for more on the WYSIATI problem). Don't assume the person you're with is happy because they haven't said anything, or because they haven't left. There's still a lot you don't know, a lot you might need to learn, accept, and address.


If you want to make sure you're on the right track, a good way to go about it is to ask. Home Depot could send out customer satisfaction surveys, and you can do a survey of your own. Ask your partner how good of a job you're doing for them - as someone who's supposed to enhance, enrich, and support their own life experiences. Ask them if you're letting them down in any way, or if you could do more to make them happy. Ask them what makes them happy, so you could do more of that. And go out of your way to do it, even if the subject doesn't come up. Make a point to come right out and make it the topic of conversation.


And then accept what they say. As much as it hurts. Because to make your own good decisions, you can't shy away from the truth. Otherwise you'll be making your own life choices on really bad information.


Don't set yourself up to be blindsided. You don't want that. It doesn't go well for businesses who suddenly lose all their customers. It probably won't go well for you.

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